This summer I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Amgen Scholars Program at Columbia University in New York City. The Amgen Scholars Program is a fully funded research program that allows undergraduate students to conduct hands-on research in the lab alongside top faculty, participate in seminars and networking events, and take part in symposia with their peers and leading scientists. I worked in Dr. Christine Denny's lab, which focuses on studying the molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory in cognitive and psychiatric disease states, as well as developing drugs in order to protect against stress.
During the 10-week program, I investigated the impact of different drug treatments on Alzheimer's Disease symptoms using transgenic mouse models. Essentially, we injected the mice with two different drugs and then conducted a series of behavioral tests to measure changes in their cognitive and psychiatric conditions. We then extracted their brains and quantified the levels of newly born neurons in the hippocampus using fluorescent tagging and a variety of imaging techniques.
In addition to my wet lab research, I also participated in professional development and scientific enrichment seminars and attended the national Amgen Scholars symposium held at UCLA. This incredible program allowed me to not only develop my benchwork skills, but practice the process of writing scientific papers, present my novel work in front of an expert audience, and gain deeper insight into what it means to be a scientist. As a prospective future PhD student and researcher, the program offered me invaluable networking opportunities and a better understanding of different pathways in science. I am so thankful to everyone in the Denny Lab and Columbia Amgen team for a great summer filled with incredible research, amazing people, and inspirational insight into what my future might look like.